UCLA Football Recruiting: Midseason Update

Stephen Dunn

We take a look at UCLA's current recruiting efforts on the offensive side of the ball.

It's been a while since we last looked at UCLA's recruiting efforts. There has been quite a bit of movement, specifically with the losses of 3* QB Eddie Printz, 3* RB Keyante Green, and 2* WR Inoke Lotulelei, and additions of 4* RB Craig Lee, 3*/4* RB Jalen Ortiz, 2* S Jayon Brown, 4* OT Kenny Lacy, 4* OT Christian Morris, 3* C Scott Quessenberry, 3* S Mossi Johnson, 3* OT Poasi Moala, 3*/4*, and OG John Lopez. Needless to say, UCLA is off to a good start.

Today, we'll take a closer look at UCLA's efforts on the offensive side of the ball. UCLA has really excelled so far with offensive linemen and running backs, which isn't much of a surprise because those two areas are led by Coach Klemm and Coach Broussard, two very good recruiters. However, the loss of Eddie Printz and lack of wide receivers at this point are somewhat disconcerting.

Quarterback

Status: Brett Hundley has taken over the job and looks solidly in control of the offense. As a redshirt freshman, it looks like the starting position is locked up for a while. However, the depth behind him is a bit of a concern. Kevin Prince and Richard Brehaut will both graduate after this season, leaving TJ Millweard, Jerry Neuheisel, Mike Fafaul, and potentially Devin Fuller behind Hundley. Fuller is now playing wide receiver, and while he has repeatedly said that he wants to play quarterback, he may be too gifted of an athlete to use as a backup quarterback.

Commits:

Targets: Troy Williams; Hayden Rettig; Tyler Bruggman

Outlook: The staff locked on to Eddie Printz early and stopped recruiting the quarterback position, only to determine that Printz wasn't a good fit. In the meantime, the quarterback position dried up quickly, and the staff put themselves in the position to either flip one of the better local recruits, take a shot on an unheralded recruit, or not take a quarterback in this year's class.

Troy Williams and Hayden Rettig are both local prospects worth fighting for, but both are currently committed elsewhere. Williams plays for Narbonne HS while Rettig is at Cathedral and both expressed interest in UCLA before committing to Washington and LSU, respectively. Of the two, Williams may be the better option. Washington signed two elite quarterbacks in last year's class, and he adds an extra dimension with his mobility. Rettig, on the other hand, spoke very highly of Coach Mazzone and his offense before committing to LSU, and the staff's interest in Rettig played a role in the Printz fiasco.


Running Back

Status: Jonathan Franklin will be graduating, leaving Damien Thigpen, Jordon James, and Steven Manfro at the position. Thigpen, James, and Manfro are all F/HB hybrids, and it wouldn't be surprising to see the staff sign two running backs this year.

Commits: Craig Lee; Jalen Ortiz

Targets: Khalfani Muhammad; Thomas Tyner

Outlook: Keyante Green was another Georgia product that committed early, only to decommit and look elsewhere. Like Printz, the decommitment may have due to the staff looking elsewhere. In Green's place, UCLA has gained commitments for 4* Craig Lee and 3*/4* Jalen Ortiz. Lee has good size at 6'0 188 lbs, and is a pure running back. Ortiz is only 5'9 170 lbs, but he has elite speed and is very shifty.

I don't think UCLA is in the market for another running back, but Khalfani Muhammad would be welcomed to the team if he decided to come to Westwood. The Notre Dame HS product may have diminutive size, at only 5-7 160 lbs., but his tape is fun to watch and he has truly elite speed.

UCLA would also obviously take 5* Thomas Tyner out of Oregon if he was willing to come aboard. The longtime Oregon commit recently decommitted and is rumored to be interested in visiting UCLA and Oregon St., but remember Oregon does not allow committed prospects to visit elsewhere, and his "decommitment" may just be a way of being able to look around. Regardless, UCLA is on his short list and Tyner is a special talent.

Wide Receivers

Status: After a few lackluster recruiting classes, Coach Mora & Co. signed Jordan Payton, Javon Williams, Randall Goforth, Kenny Walker, Fabian Moreau, Paul Perkins, and Ahmaad Harris last year. However, Goforth may end up at CB, and Walker, Moreau, Perkins, and Harris all look like slot guys. There is also a lot of talented WR's out west in this year's class, so it would be a good time to nab an elite WR. However, there are rumors that Coach Yarber isn't exactly setting the world on fire in the recruiting circles, and UCLA has already missed on a lot of talented prospects.

Commits: .

Targets: Sebastian Larue; Devon Allen; John Ross; Demorea Stringfellow; Samajie Grant; Xavier Shepherd; Juwan Dickey

Outlook: As mentioned above, 2* Lotulelei is the first commit at WR for this class, but he may defer enrollment to take his mission and probably won't crack the depth chart for three years. He has also mentioned his desire for a BYU offer, which he recently received, so he may not be "committed" for long.

Since the last recruiting update, Inoke Lotulelei unsurprisingly decommitted, leaving UCLA without a committed wide receiver. However, there are plenty of solid players that UCLA is still involved with.

Allen is big receiver with good straight line speed out of Arizona. He stands 6'1 190 lbs. and has offers from all over the country. UW does appear to be his leader partly due to family ties in the area, but he's a guy to keep an eye on. After UW's commitments from Daniels and Stringfellow, one has to wonder how many WR's they can take in their small class this year.

John Ross is a bit smaller at 5'9 175, but he's electric with the ball. He plays at Jordan HS in Long Beach, and has potential as a return man as well as CB. Of the remaining WR targets, I would assume that he is #1 on the list.

Two committed players that UCLA is still pursuing are Demorea Stringfellow and Sebastian LaRue, who are committed to Washington and USC, respectively. Stringfellow is a big, prototypical wide receiver listed at 6'3 215 lbs. LaRue is more of a slot type at 5'11 175 lbs. He's also a very good cornerback and could easily end up on the defensive side of the ball.

Grant, Shepherd, and Dickey are all a little less heralded than the others, but UCLA has shown interest in all of them. Dickey is the biggest at 6'1 185 lbs. He is Printz's teammate, but his interest in UCLA has remained. Grant also has good size at 6'0 175. He's also a candidate to play CB, but he is currently committed to Arizona. Shepherd is another smallish slot that Mazzone loves. He's only 5'9 165 lbs., but is said to have been very good in the camp circuits. He's currently committed to Utah, but he's a guy to keep an eye on.

Tight End

Status: Replacing Fauria at the Y will be a tough proposition; 6'8 athletic tight ends simply do not grow on trees. However, how Mazzone utilized Fauria may go a long ways towards gathering interest with the tight ends who are out there. Last year, Ian Taubler and Nate Iese were both signed with potential to play the Y. However, Taubler may grow into an OT and Iese looks dynamic at OLB/DE.

Commits: None.

Targets: Thomas Duarte; Siale Fakailoantonga

Status: Duarte is a Mater Dei product who stands an impressive 6'4 225 lbs. His is a much better receiver than blocker and really looks like a perfect "Y" receiver. He has family ties to UCLA, but he doesn't appear to have a favorite at this point.

Fakailoantonga is similarly sized at 6'4 215 lbs, though a little less heralded than Duarte. He plays for Cottonwood HS in Utah, the same school that decommitted Inoke Lotulelei plays for, and it does look like UCLA is the leader at this point.


Offensive Line

Status: While Rick Neuheisel left the offensive in exponentially better shape than the condition it was in when he arrived, the number of early season injuries have really exposed UCLA's offensive line. Getting Xavier Su'a Filo back was huge, but the line needs more depth and talent across the board.

Commits: OT Christian Morris; OT Kenny Lacy; OT Erik Bunte; OT Sean Dowling; OT Poasi Moala; OG John Lopez; OG/C Scott Quessenbery

Targets: OG Sean Harlow; OT Aaron Cochran; OT Riley Sorensen ; OG Cameron Hunt

Outlook: Coach Klemm and UCLA has done a wonderful job securing a lot of highly rated offensive line recruits. All of the currently committed lineman are highly sought after players in the high 3* or 4* category. If Coach Klemm can keep the group currently committed to stick with UCLA through signing day, this could be one of the best offensive line classes in UCLA's history.

Bunte and Dowling were UCLA's first offensive line commits of the class. Bunte is a mammoth at 6'7 310 lbs. He certainly looks like he may be able to step right in and play. Dowling is a little smaller at 6'6 265 lbs., but if he is able to put on weight this year, he may be able to provide depth next season as well.

Moala is a big guy at 6'5, but he's only 265 lbs. and will need to gain some weight before playing at the next level. He was previously committed to Washington, but flipped to the Bruins after his official visit.

Morris and Lacy are both highly touted out of state prospects. Morris recently gave UCLA a worry about his commitment, but he remains committed at this point. At 6'6 285 lbs., he has good size and could probably play immediately if necessary. Lacy is the top OT prospect in Arizona and appears solid to UCLA at this point. He is 6'6 270 lbs. and has offers from all over the country.

Quessenberry and Lopez are the two interior lineman recruits. Lopez has excellent size at 6'5 305 lbs., and UCLA has been recruiting him for years. Quessenberry is one of the top ranked centers in the country, but at 6'3 265 lbs., he clearly has to bulk up before playing at the next level.

Cochran, Sorensen, Hunt, and Harlow are all legitimate recruits worthy of Pac-12 offers. The fact that UCLA is still recruiting gives some indication of the dire state of UCLA's line, as well as Coach Klemm's recruiting ability.

That rounds up our mid-season look at UCLA's recruiting efforts on the offensive side of the ball. Be sure to check back in tomorrow where we'll take a look at the defensive recruiting scene.

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